Poisonous spiders, puppies and partying

Evidently I’m not so great at writing in here regularly!  Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening here at CCF lately.

Last week we had a farewell party for three interns that were leaving.  We had a really fun evening and I even managed to stay up until 1.30am – the latest I’ve stayed awake since getting to Africa!!  We were also up late the night before as it was Laurie’s birthday, so everyone came down to celebrate and we  ate far too much and listened to cheesy 80s music.  I felt kinda bad that we hadn’t got her a present, but she seemed to have a great time nonetheless.

The cars here are a complete joke.  Or at least it seems that’s what some people think of them when they drive around here.  There is not a day that has gone by since me getting here that one car hasn’t been at the mechanics for one reason or another.  Just in the last month one car has got totalled twice due to “animals running out in front of them”, smashing into the cars and breaking them.  I’m sure if you drive slow enough then you’d be able to break though…  Our last night count of the month was fun being that again the car I had had no four-wheel drive and it was muddy, the brakes were faulty, the windscreen wipers didn’t work, the fourth gear didn’t work and the lights were bad again!  I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get into an accident!!  A car just recently got stuck out in the bush with some guests in it – not really the best thing to happen! 

Living in the wilderness means sharing your house with all manner of animals.  There is a rat that lives above the ceiling tiles in my room and I often hear it running around above me at night time.  I don’t really mind this, just as long as it doesn’t wake me up.  However, it decided to start eating its way through the ceiling tile directly above my head where I sleep, which is where I drew the line.  I got a (humane) mouse trap last night and baited it with peanut butter, et voila, this morning it had a rat in it.  I took it to the barn and released it – the poor little thing was shaking to death as it was so scared.  I thought I’d gotten rid of my rat problem, but I’ve just heard another one above me, so looks like I’ll have to get that mouse trap back again!

A few weeks ago I found a delightfully colourful spider making a web on my bookshelf.  It had a bright green abdomen with a red and yellow carapace.  Beautiful – although probably deadly!
We also have a limping male warthog that likes to hang out outside our house.  Apparently he’s been here for years now and it’s surprising that one of the many predators round here (like a cheetah whose spoor I found just 20m from my house last week!) hasn’t had him for dinner.  CCF occasionally hunt wild game to feed the cheetahs and apparently the staff here have decided that they couldn’t possibly off him being that he’s quite a character here now.  Bless!

We had the British Ambassador visit us a while ago as she was mapping out what all the British people in Namibia were doing in the country.   Apparently there are a few thousand of us Brits here, but she has no clue what most of them are doing!  We took her for a tour of the centre, which her and her family seemed to really enjoy – the kids especially seemed to love the goats and dogs!  The little boy kept on saying he was really excited about going on the “Tiger Drive”, but when I told him that we didn’t have tigers here and that it was instead called a “Cheetah Drive”, he said “No, no, the TIGER drive”.  I hope he wasn’t too disappointed not to see a tiger!  The Ambassador wrote up her visit on the FCO Namibia blog, and I was surprised to see that I even got mentioned in it!
CCF run a model farm here to teach farmers how to look after livestock in a non-lethal manner.  As we have dairy goats to produce milk to provide income for CCF, we continually need to produce kids for the milk.  I wasn’t aware that goats needed to have their horns taken off them otherwise they end up fighting and hurting or even killing each other.  However, the way to dehorn a goat isn’t pleasant:  at an early age (usually a week or so old) they burn the stump of the horn off, along with an area around the top of the skull.  The smell is revolting and the goat screams – it really isn’t very nice, even with anaesthetic.  Poor little things!
As well as having goats here, we also breed dogs.  These are Anatolian shepherds, a Turkish breed bred to become livestock guarding dogs to protect flocks against predators.  Just yesterday a new mum gave birth to 8 beautiful puppies!  They are currently just bundles of fluff at the moment and are so adorable.
I’m really looking forward to Valentine’s Day this year – an unusual thing for me!  However, I have a good reason for it – CCF are hosting a dinner in Windhoek and inviting a load of big cat bigwigs, such as Jonathan and Angie Scott (from Big Cat Diaries), Claudio Sillero-Zubiri (from WildCRU, Oxford Uni), Laurence Frank (from Living with Lions) and Christiaan Winterbaach (from Tsau Lion Project, Botswana).  It shall be great to meet them all and hear about their research.

CCF are currently in the process of rewilding a number of groups of cheetahs that had been caught on farming land as the farmers didn’t want them anymore.  They are placed in captivity for a period of time before another place can be found for them.  For some lucky cheetahs, they have been chosen to be relocated to India to share their new home with lions, tigers and leopards.  Fancy going to a nature reserve where you can see FOUR big cats in one place!!

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